Martin Kaymer matched the worst collapse recorded in the history of the European Tour as he blew up a six-shot lead at the start of the day – which he stretched to 10 shots after the first five holes – on a day of immense drama at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
Like a well-oiled machine, the world No12 was cruising on his way to a fourth Falcon Trophy, and after finding 47 greens in regulation out of 54 in the first three days, he produced similar class as he hit the first five greens and converted birdies on three of them.
Starting the day at 20-under par, the German looked unbeatable as he reached 23-under, with his nearest rival at 13-under par.
And then the vagaries of the game hit him hard. For someone who made an incredible 25 birdies in his first 58 holes, Kaymer did not even come close to making another in his last 14 holes.
Instead, a double bogey on the par-4 ninth and a triple bogey on the par-4 13th, the fourth easiest hole on the golf course this week, saw him finish the day on three-over par 75 – the joint worst card alongside England’s Andy Sullivan.
“Yeah, surprised and a little shocked. I don’t really know how to put it into words. It was very, very surprising today. I started off well and then hit a couple bad tee shots and that cost me double‑bogey and a triple‑bogey,” said Kaymer.
“Twice I missed the grass and I was in a bush. I had to drop it in the sand. Obviously then you get a bad lie which makes it tough to even get a bogey. I haven’t done that all week long. Unfortunately, I did today, and that cost me the tournament.”
Kaymer finished on 17-under par 271, and his misery was turned into a celebration for 22-year-old Frenchman Gary Stal, who was trying his best to secure a second place finish like everyone else in the field until then.
On the European Tour, there have been only three previous instances when a six-shot lead has been lost – by Peter Dawson in 1977 Tournament Players Championship, Darren Clarke in the 1999 European Open and Simon Dyson at the 2004 BMW Asian Open.
The German feels he was punished for his poor play on the back nine. “I do miss fairways, but usually you get away with it," said the 30-year old.
"You don’t make double or triple‑bogey. But that is what happened today. Another thing was I didn’t make many putts,” said Kaymer.
When asked if he could take some positives out of the tournament, he added: “The positive is I was playing really good golf. That was nice after such a long break. The first three days, I played so solid, barely missed a fairway.
“Today was a little bit different. But there’s still a lot of positives, and that’s tough to say after that round. I certainly was shocked.”
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